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Since leaving Oxygen College last year Steve Penman has done very well in various photography competitions. We sat down with Steve, to chat about his recent success and to see what he has been up to with his Photography since finishing his course.

Hey Steve, you have been a busy man since finishing with Oxygen – what have you been up to?

I have been continuing to practice and build on what I learnt at Oxygen College by focusing on a number of national photography competitions.

We have heard that you have done well in a couple of competitions, can you tell us more about them?

Sure, I entered Capture Magazines Top Emerging Photographer 2018 contest in the student category. Really as a way to see where my skills were at compared with some of the other students in Australia and NZ. I didn’t expect to do as well as I did, finishing in the top 10. The competition was a series of 6 images. Mine were all taken as part of my studies at Oxygen College. I took them at home to help me build on what we were learning in the studio. I also entered the Australian Institute of Professional Photography’s (AIPP) Victorian state awards, again in the student category. These are print awards so completely different to the Capture Magazine competition. The panel of 5 judges give a score between 0-100. I entered 3 images, again all taken during my studies at Oxygen, however the images were retouched to suit the material and printer being used which was an entirely new process to me. I managed to achieve 2 silvers and only just missed out on a third by 3 points.

Where were the competitions held?

The Capture Magazine competition was an online competition judged by a large panel of national and international judges. The AIPP state awards were held at Swinburne University. These awards can be attended in person, however I elected to watch the judging live online. There is a lot to be learnt from watching the judging, the feedback is invaluable.

Can you explain the works you presented for the competition?

My images were a series of pet portraits, each showing my developing understanding of studio lighting. I put a post out on the local community noticeboard looking for unusual or colourful animals to photograph. I ended up with a green tree frog, a sun conure, a bearded dragon, a red belly black snake and two stunning horses. My lighting skills developed to the stage where I could be adventurous and apply it outside of the studio.

Apart from being busy doing amazing things in competitions, what else have you been doing with your photography?

I have done a few smaller paid pieces of work here and there, however my main focus has been on these recent competitions. I find myself being a lot more creative with my ideas and now it is really a case of developing my Photoshop skills further to be able bring my creative ideas to life.


How have the skills you learnt at Oxygen College helped you on your journey so far?

Absolutely the lighting in the studio has helped me the most. I loved working with lights, which is something I had never done before. Our trainer was excellent at explaining how it all worked and was always encouraging us to try different techniques. I developed some of these ideas further at home after class was finished. 

What would you like to achieve with your photography over the next 12 months?

I’d like to be a lot more creative and with that build on the post processing skills learned at Oxygen. Who knows, fingers crossed that leads to something bigger and better down the track.


Anything you would like to add?

A big thank you to my trainer and all the students in my class. It was a great learning experience and something that I miss now that I have finished. Without my trainer, my class mates and the support of Oxygen College I wouldn’t have been able to achieve these awards – so thank you to all.